Happy birthday, TV advertising – 60 years old today

On the 22nd of September 1955 – at 9:01pm to be precise – history was made in the UK because it was then that the first ever TV advert was broadcast in the country. Made for Gibbs SR toothpaste and broadcast on ITV’s very first day, it wasn’t exactly shot with huge production values, and unless you’re kicking on a bit, it’s unlikely that you’ll remember it. So here it is in all its glory:

Since then, television advertising has become an art form in its own right, and has been a part of almost the entire population’s daily lives. In the 60 years since that night, we have been lucky (well, perhaps) enough to be served with adverts that have become legendary in their own right.

How many times have you watched “TV’s Greatest Ever Adverts” (Sic.) and grinned inanely as a C-list talking head explains why the Carling Black Label ‘Dambusters’ advert of 1989 was such a classic? Or laughed while reminiscing over a pint about the PG Tips apes trying to manhandle a piano up a staircase (brushing the potential issues around animal rights under the carpet)?

TV advertising is ingrained in our psyche and is as prevalent as ever. But at 60 years old, surely it’s heading towards retirement – especially as its old job role has been eroded by the young guns of the internet, mobile web, social and native app advertising?

Well, no, not really. Because whilst it might be a bit of an old dog, TV advertising has certainly learned a few new tricks in recent years.

Targeting the right people with the right products has always been the goal of advertising professionals across channels, but for most of the last 60 years, hitting an entire region was about as close as you could get to putting a product in front of a relevant audience. Not much use when your business only operates across Kent, and yet spends tens of thousands making an impression on people in Sussex and Hampshire.

Now, however, we have Sky AdSmart – the most highly targetable form of television advertising the UK (and perhaps the globe) has ever seen. We’ve spoken of the merits of the system many times, and have seen results from our automotive clients’ campaigns that give irrefutable evidence of the system’s ability to drive relevant people to a dealership.

Manufacturers are also cottoning on to the ability of the system to deliver national campaigns using multiple variants of the same advert but adding highly relevant content to each region, conurbation or post code they are advertising in. Furthermore, they are able to reach the demographics that would be most interested in a particular vehicle, based on Sky subscriber and Experian Mosaic data.

Sounds like witchcraft, but it’s a reality.

We have come a long way since Gibbs SR toothpaste made history, but looking at the way technology is evolving, we’ve got a long way to go. And if you doubt the power of TV advertising, check out this ‘Top 100’ list of UK TV ads, and see just how many you know of…

About GForces

GForces is Europe’s leading provider of digital solutions to the automotive industry. Working with more of the UK Top 200 dealer groups, more OEMs and more international businesses than any rival, we help our clients navigate and maximise their online presence across mobile and desktop platforms.
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Author: GForces (611 Articles)

GForces is Europe’s leading provider of digital solutions to the automotive industry. Working with more of the UK Top 200 dealer groups, more OEMs and more international businesses than any rival, we help our clients navigate and maximise their online presence across mobile and desktop platforms.